A week in the East: 13-21 November 2017

My week(ish) long vacation that happened Monday November 13 through Tuesday November 21st was significant for a number of reasons: My first time on the East Coast in ten years (last time 2007), my first time on a plane in almost four (last time Jan 2014), my first long trip with my current girlfriend Emee, and a rare non-bikecentric trip (though bikes were still involved.) The main reason for the trip was an alumni function at Emee’s alma mater, Yale. We tacked on visits to New York and Boston on top of New Haven.

I’m not going to bore you with a play-by-play, but here’s how it broke down:

  • We flew from Portland on Mon Nov 13. This was a night flight with a stopover at San Francisco, so we didn’t get to Boston until 5 AM (Eastern Time) on Tuesday November 14.
  • From Logan, we took the train north to Salem to spend a night with Emee’s friends Donna and Charles. I managed to catch a visit with my old friend Bruce.
  • The next day, Wed Nov 15, we took an afternoon train back to Boston to spend the night. We went on a crazy bike ride in honor of my friend Carl’s b-day.
  • Thurs Nov 16 we took Amtrak to New Haven, where we would be until Sat night. We did a bunch of alumni-related Yale stuff, but squeezed in a visit with my friend Marc, a bike ride with New Haven Bike Party, and consumption of pizza and Mamoun’s.
  • Sat Nov 18 we hopped on the Metro-North train to Grand Central. We’d be in New York until Tues morning (Nov 21). All of the time was spent in Manhattan. Emee got to visit her dad. I got to visit Justine of Mid-Life Cycling. We also hit up the High Line and St Marks Place.
  • Tues Nov 21 we took a NJ Transit train from Penn Station to Newark Liberty Airport. Another long day of flying (with another stopover in SFO) to get home.

As someone who spent the first 24 years of my life in Connecticut, and who has spent the last 17 on the West Coast (16 in Portland), it is a bit weird visiting the homeland after such a long time. I did see a decent number of good changes in New Haven, like increased bicycle infrastructure (contra-flow bike lanes! bike corrals!) and just cool places to go, it comes with a price: The city, while never a “deal”, has gotten increasingly unaffordable. Still, it got me a bit wistful about the city I considered “home” at one point.

Other points and observations:

  • We used bike share in Boston and New York. (New Haven’s system is a month from going online, so we borrowed bikes from the awesome Devil’s Gear bike shop.) I had only used bike share once before, the Biketown here in Portland. It was fun! Yes, these bikes are not great “riding” bikes, but that’s not the point. However, these two systems use the “only 30 minutes per ride” system that was standard on early bike shares. (Portland will allow you to ride for up to 180 consecutive minutes.) So it can be a bit stressful to figure out if there’s going to be an available dock before the 30 minutes are up to avoid penalties. If I was going to do a lot more travelling like this with flying involved, I’d seriously consider getting a folding bike.
  • As for flying, it wasn’t bad, but I still don’t really like it. We had a six hour flight back from Newark to SFO, and those seats are so damn cramped and uncomfortable. It makes me appreciate taking the train.
  • It was nice to see folks I know! Bruce and Carl in the Boston area, Marc and Matt in New Haven, Justine in New York.
  • And it was definitely nice being in the Northeast for a bit. I was surprised how some things still felt so familiar even after such a long break. And in the case of New Haven, things are definitely getting better. But I realized that while I could probably make a move back “work”, I still prefer being on the West Coast. Portland has become home to me, and I don’t want to leave. If I was going to try another town to live in, it’d probably be somewhere new.

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